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City settles suit with girl who sustained gash from swing-set

Girl suffered injury during field trip to Verdugo Park two years ago.

February 14, 2012|By Brittany Levine, brittany.levine@latimes.com

The city has agreed to settle a lawsuit filed on behalf of an 11-year-old who suffered a roughly 5-inch gash on her forearm while on a school field trip at Verdugo Park nearly two years ago.

Anahit Allakhverdian was pushing a younger student on a swing when a broken metal strap jabbed into her forearm, causing the injury, according to court records.

After Armenouhi Ghourgoian, Anahit’s mother, sued the city over the June 2010 incident, last week the city finalized a $28,000-settlement with the Sun Valley family.

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In agreeing to settle the case, the city did not admit liability. In court records, the city contended that it “was in no way negligent, careless, or reckless,” but rather the school and swing manufacturer were the “sole and proximate cause of the injuries and damages.”

However, Anahit’s attorney, Lawrence Strid, argued the city failed to maintain, inspect and replace the broken swing set at 1621 Canada Blvd.

According to court documents filed on behalf of Anahit, the gash left her with long-lasting mental and physical pain.

The settlement comes a few months after an internal audit stated parks officials should consistently document playground equipment inspections. Not doing so increases the risk that inspections are not performed, exposing the city to greater liability, according to the report.

Of 72 playgrounds in the city, 34% did not have daily or weekly inspections performed, and 29% did not have inspections documented, according to the audit. At the same time, six playgrounds, or 8%, had more inspections than required.

Anahit also received a $3,500 settlement from her school — Arshag Dickranian Armenian School of Los Angeles — and $8,500 from the swing manufacturer, American Swing Products, Strid said.

The family didn’t independently sue the school and manufacturer, but the city wrapped them into the case by claiming they were liable.

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